The Ontario government announced changes to build low-risk waterpower projects faster, such as such as expansions or changes to an existing facility.
The changes to Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower Projects will help generate the clean, renewable, and affordable hydroelectricity needed to meet the province’s long-term needs.
“We want to speed up the development of sustainable, renewable energy projects that will actually benefit our communities,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Waterpower is a clean renewable energy source, which is paving the way to providing reliable and affordable power to communities and creating green jobs across the province.”
The changes will align the level of risk with the level of assessment to ensure strong environmental oversight and protection. They will also include creating a streamlined process for identifying waterpower projects that are expected to have no or short-term environmental impacts, such as implementing new technology, undertaking a small dam retrofit or expansion; and, exempting them from environmental assessment requirements, which can often take months or even years to complete, thus reducing the time and cost it takes to get projects underway, which will help create jobs that support Ontario’s green economy and deliver clean and reliable energy to communities across the province.
“Hydroelectric power generation has been serving Ontario’s electricity needs for well over a century, helping us to achieve one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “These changes to the waterpower Class EA process will help streamline new waterpower opportunities that can further contribute to our province’s clean, reliable and affordable energy future.”
“This improvement to our Class Environmental Assessment will encourage new investment in infrastructure across the province while maintaining environmental sustainability”, said Paul Norris, President of the Ontario Waterpower Association. “Waterpower was Ontario’s original source of electricity and these perpetual assets will continue to provide affordable, reliable energy for decades to come.”